German Volume Training – More is not always better by Dan Bernardin

German Volume Training (GVT) has a reputation in bodybuilding, powerlifting and weightlifting as being the holy grail for breaking through strength plateaus and packing on some serious muscle. It is a system that was developed in the 1970’s and involves 10 sets of 10 reps (100 reps) at approximately 60% of your 1 rep max (1RM) with 60 seconds of rest. You typically utilise GVT with two big compound exercise performed as an antagonistic set, for example; Bench Press + Pull Ups or Back Squat + Romanian Deadlift. We have utilised GVT for many young players trying to add some muscle to increase their body mass to handle playing senior football with great results!

Recent research investigated the effects of Full-GVT (10 sets of 10 reps) to Half-GVT (5 sets of 10 reps) in the bench press + lat-pull down (workout 1), leg press + lunges (workout 2) and shoulder press + upright row (workout 3) (1). 19 males with strength training experience were randomly allocated to either the Full-GVT or Half-GVT group and performed 3 workouts per week for 6 weeks. Muscle size (ultrasound and DEXA scan) and strength (1RM bench press, lat pulldown and leg press) were measured both pre and post the training intervention.

Results showed that Half-GVT was more effective at increasing muscle size and strength then Full-GVT. This is an interesting outcome as mentioned earlier the Full-GVT protocol has been the holy grail for such a long period of time in several different weight training worlds. What this research highlights is the law of diminishing returns, which suggests the magnitude of adaptation diminishes with greater training volumes or duration’s at any given time.
One thing we have learned over many years of training experience is that more is not always better! When using Half-GVT be sure to pair your compound exercises based on lines of movement for example vertical push and pull or horizontal push and pull as can be seen in the video below.

1. Amirthalingam, T., Mauros, Y., Wilson, G.C., Clarke, J.L., Mitchell, L., Hackett, D.A. (2016) Effects of a modified German Volume Training Program on Muscular Hypertrophy and Strength, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31, 3109-3119.